Okada finds partner for Manila casino

By Richmond S. Mercurio, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 18 2015 07:37 AM | Updated as of May 18 2015 03:37 PM

MANILA – The group of Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada may have finally found a local partner to start commercial operations of its $2 billion casino-resort project along Manila Bay next year.

Officials of Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Inc., an affiliate of Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp., told The STAR that they would announce their local partner “in the very near future” and is on track to open the project by 2016.

“Given that we have submitted a request for extension of our provisional license for the first quarter for 2017, we are actively targeting to open the property by 2016,” the officials said.

Tiger Resorts executives said the first phase of the $2-billion Manila Bay Resorts project would include a hotel, casino, night club as well “the iconic fountain and a variety of gastronomic restaurants to delight the Filipino palate.”

Tiger Resorts is one of four licensees of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to operate in Entertainment City which is envisioned to become the country’s gaming hotspot.

The Okada Group, however, is barred from starting commercial operations of the megacasino project without a local partner under the country’s foreign ownership rule.

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Century Properties Group Inc. of former ambassador Jose Antonio was supposed to be Okada’s local partner for the project before their partnership went sour.

Century Properties was supposed to be in charge of developing a luxury residential and commercial project on a five-hectare property at the 44-hectare Manila Bay Resorts project.

The two parties, however, announced last week that they have patched thing up following a recent “top-level” meeting.

With their issues amicably settled, Century Properties decided to withdraw its case against the Okada group.

“We believe it is commendable that Century Properties worked with us in finding resolution, and we thank them for that,” Tiger Resorts officials said.

But whether or not the two firms will pursue a partnership for the $2-billion Manila Bay Resorts project in Entertainment City remains in question as officials from both sides declined to comment.

Manila Bay Resorts is set to be the third of four integrated resort-casinos to open in Pagcor’s Entertainment City.

Solaire Resort and Casino of Bloomberry Resorts Corp. was the first to open in the gaming hub, followed by City of Dreams Manila of Macau-based casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.

Both projects have already secured the regular gaming license from Pagcor this month.

Completing the four components of Entertainment City is another integrated resort casino project by Alliance Global Group Inc. of Andrew Tan and Genting Hong Kong Ltd.

Okada’s Manila Bay Resorts was supposed to open this year, but has been pushed back to next year.

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